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ATV law approved in Berkeley County

June 11, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A week after residents asked that stiffer penalties be imposed for people caught illegally riding all-terrain vehicles on roads, the Berkeley County Commission approved a revised version of an ordinance that calls for offenders to serve more community service.

The commissioners passed the revised ordinance at their meeting Thursday morning. As of the ordinance's effective date - July 1 - ATVs will no longer be allowed on any road in the county, public or private, paved or dirt. They also are banned on county property, including parks.

Under terms of the revised ordinance, first-time offenders would pay a fine of up to $100 and perform 10 hours of community service; second-time offenders would pay a fine up to $250 and perform 20 hours of community service; and third-time offenders would pay a fine of up to $1,000 and perform 100 hours of community service.

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Previously, a work-in-progress ordinance called for first-time offenders to perform no community service. Second-time offenders would have performed eight hours of community service and third-time offenders would have been made to perform 24 hours of community service.

Like the state's ATV law, the county ordinance requires that underage riders take a course on how to ride properly. They also must wear safety gear, including a helmet.

Passengers are not allowed unless the rider has attained an advanced license or is over the age of 18.

"It just scares me to see kids on ATVs," Berkeley County Commission President Steve Teufel said after the meeting.

Both Teufel and Commissioner Howard Strauss said county roads will likely be safer once ATV riders realize the ordinance is being enforced.

From 1990 to 2003 in West Virginia, 220 people were killed in ATV-related wrecks, Gray Collis, program manager of the Berkeley County Emergency Ambulance Authority, has said.

Of those, 95 percent were not wearing helmets and one-third died in wrecks on a road. An 18-month-old girl was the youngest to die, while an 86-year-old man was the oldest, Collis said.

Collis was one of more than 30 people who spoke at a public hearing a week ago. Most of the people who spoke favored the ordinance.

A couple of ATV owners complained at the hearing that the ordinance would leave them with no place to ride.

"Unfortunately for the people who are responsible and have purchased the ATVs it's going to limit the areas they can ride," Strauss said.

He added, however, that the ordinance does not prohibit people from riding on their own land or on other people's land, provided they have permission.

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